The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, is set to arraign four suspected members of an international drug trafficking syndicate that specialises in smuggling narcotics with fake security escort vehicles .
All four defendants will appear before Justice P. I. Ajoku of the Benin Division of the Federal High Court in Edo State on Friday, the agency said in a statement Thursday.
NDLEA officers attached to the Edo State Command intercepted the convoy of a Ford pickup and a Toyota Tundra while conveying 34.2 kilogramme of methamphetamine from Lagos. The substance, which tested positive for methamphetamine, was concealed in cartons containing computer accessories. The estimated street value of the drug in Europe and Asia is about $24 million (over N10 billion).
Buba Wakawa, NDLEA Edo State Commander, gave the names of the defendants as Kaodilichi Paul, 32, and Joseph Iloh, 54, and their drivers, Eke Cyprian, 55, and Chinonso Maduekesi, 31.
“This is the largest seizure of methamphetamine by the state command,” Mr. Wakawa said.
“The arrest was made along Lagos-Benin Bye pass. The drug tested positive for methamphetamine, weighed 34.2kg and all is now set for the defendants to be arraigned in court.”
The NDLEA is pressing a four-count charge against the defendants. Count one states that without lawful authority, the defendants conspired to deal in 34.2kg of methamphetamine a drug similar to cocaine, heroin and LSD thereby committing an offence contrary to and punishable under section 11 (c) of the NDLEA Act Cap N30 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004. Other charges are unlawful transportation and possession of the narcotic drugs punishable under sections 11b and 19 of the NDLEA Act.
If found guilty, the defendants risk a minimum of 15 years in prison, according to the agency.
Muhammad Abdallah, the NDLEA Chairman, said investigation is still ongoing to establish possible links with drug trafficking organisations outside the country.
“The agency will diligently pursue this case to a logical end,” said Mr. Abdallah, a retired colonel.
“The success of the agency in the dismantling of clandestine laboratories for methamphetamine production in the country must transcend shutting down of production sites to judicial victories. We shall also monitor every hint and subject every member of the suspected drug syndicate to justice.
“Nigeria’s capacity and tenacity that resulted in the discovery of 11 methamphetamine production laboratories in the past five years shall be sustained. The triumph over drug trafficking syndicates is a victory for all.”